Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
There’s nothing quite like a football Saturday.
Each campus and city have their own nuances on game day. In what will be a 3-part series, we look at the 15 best game-day experiences in college football.
As you go down this list, you’ll notice a few omissions that are staples on every college football expert’s list. So we’ll address those now: The Grove is overrated. Notre Dame’s “mystique” was at its peak when today’s senior citizens were in college. The only thing different about Alabama’s game day experience is Rammer Jammer, which is only played after a victory.
Clemson has merely a rock and a downhill run. Let’s chill. And last but not least: Ohio State’s dotting the i. It’s really nothing special. It’s a letter spelled out by the marching band.
In the second part of a 3-part series, counting down the top 15 game-day experiences, we move into the top 10. Here’s Nos. 10 down to 6:
10. West Virginia
John Denver never sounded so good. His “Take me Home, Country Roads” turns everyone into West Virginia fans on game day — minus the 300 Marshall fans spread out across the country. West Virginia fans are possibly the most underrated fans in the country. Their passion for their football team matches or even exceeds their long history of being hard-working, blue collar people, who keep this country running. Seeing “Mountaineer Mantrip” before every home game can make anyone wish they were a West Virginian. The casual couch burning after the game is just a cherry on top.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, otherwise known as “The Swamp” is perhaps the most well-known atmosphere in college football. We’re going to be honest with you — it doesn’t belong in the top 5. That’s where most people have it on their list. It’s even more the case since one of their chants has come under some heavy scrutiny recently, and rightfully so. The Gator chomp is a great tradition, but it’s only acceptable to do as an adult if you’re actually in attendance. Please stop chomping at bars and restaurants when the game is on; you’re in public.
You want to see peak college football? Show up in Norman, Oklahoma on a college football Saturday and walk into Memorial Stadium, sit down in your seat, and just wait. Peak college football’s about to run onto the field in the form of two white horses by the name of Boomer and Sooner. Being pulled behind them is a Conestoga wagon you probably haven’t seen since you were a kid in the 1990’s playing “Oregon Trail” in the computer lab at school. Those horses and that wagon are being chased back into the tunnel from which they came by a handful of men dressed in crimson and cream, carrying flags with a big interlocking OU in the middle of a crimson field. When that’s done, sit back and enjoy the ballgame, because you’ve just seen peak college football; the game is just a bonus.
7. Virginia Tech
The best, period. Pregame warm-up, period. In college football, period. The Hokies (awesome mascot by the way) run out of the locker room before each home game to the loudest 65,632 fans you’ve ever heard, all getting down to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. That start to a football game alone is worth the price of admission. Heck, it’s worth the price of admission just to watch videos of it from your couch at home.
6. Penn State
First, let’s be real — Penn State’s uniforms aren’t great. Its uniforms are classic and unchanged; that doesn’t automatically qualify the Nittany Lions for among the nation’s best. Beaver Stadium, like LSU’s Death Valley however, is a sight to behold at night. Add in a white-out on top of a moonlit kickoff and you got yourself one memorable game-day experience. Any crowd that rewards the committed with better seats is a crowd one would be proud to be a part of. Penn State’s “Nittanyville” is home to students camping out the week of home games in order to be the first ones at the gate to score first row seats.